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How to Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Three hundred people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Don't risk being a part of that statistic.


  • Step 1: Research detectors Research which kind of carbon monoxide detector is right for your home. There are two popular kinds: Battery powered or AC plug-in powered.
  • TIP: Battery-operated models are preferable because they can be placed near the ceiling, which is important because CO rises. But if you know you’ll never remember to change the batteries, go with an outlet detector.
  • Step 2: Choose location Decide where your detector will go. It should be away from fuel-burning appliances and at least 15 feet from heating or cooking units and humid areas, like the bathroom. Also, make sure no furniture or draperies cover the alarm.
  • TIP: The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that the unit be placed near your bedroom, so it will wake you up if it goes off.
  • Step 3: Read installation instructions Take your product out of its packaging and read the installation instructions. If it's an AC outlet--powered unit, just plug it into the wall. If it's a battery-powered unit, it should come with screws and screw anchors.
  • Step 4: Mark wall w/ pencil Line up the unit with the wall, marking with a pencil where the screws need to go. Many carbon monoxide detectors have a separate twist-off base, making it easy to install the unit.
  • Step 5: Make holes in wall Now, use the wall punch to make a hole in the wall right over those dots. Be sure the holes are no bigger than your screw anchors; you'll want them to fit snugly.
  • Step 6: Tap anchors into holes With a hammer, lightly tap the anchors into the holes.
  • Step 7: Screw base to wall If you have a separate base, screw that into the wall. If the base does not detach, place the screws in the wall but do not tighten; make sure the detector fits over them and can be secured.
  • Step 8: Install battery Install the battery in your detector, then place it on the wall.
  • Step 9: Test detector Be sure to test it--not only so you'll know it works, but also so you'll know what it sounds like.
  • TIP: Consumer Reports recommends detectors with warnings that become louder and faster as the CO increases.
  • Step 10: Mark calendar Mark on your calendar now to replace the batteries in a year. Then sleep easy, knowing you're safe!
  • FACT: The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.

You Will Need

  • A carbon monoxide detector
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Wall punch
  • Hammer
  • Batteries

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